Thursday, 15 November 2007

John Samahah is a natural actor. Tonight at the Australian Poetry Slam he did three skits that were very funny. The poor viewer response to his YouTube site is a great shame.

What gets me though is that he's the spitting image of the guy in the Greater Union ad ('feel like a star'). Not the guy who drives the brown, late-70s Honda Civic and prints portraits of himself to give to his office colleagues, but the rotund individual at the corner shop who has to catch the keys.

"It's not me," he said when I asked. A thoroughly charming man.

On YouTube, John has 13 videos posted. Watch them, they're classic. If you thought the Chaser was good, you'll love this stuff. It's got an edge and is genuinely amusing. And John himself presents brilliantly; obviously a man of great dramatic talents.

The reading was OK. Too much of the same stuff, though. Certainly too much rap. Bea doesn't agree. I met Bea three readings ago in Glebe and when she's not cadging fags, we chat about poetry.

Last night I didn't stand close enough to the mike (she said) so she didn't hear my pieces. Mark Mordue, who compered as well as read some stuff (published in the Ilumina 2007 anthology), picked out two lines (one of which I stole from a work colleague).

Returning home, I worked on one of them, removing some false clauses and working to sustain one or two metaphors. I guess that in a sonnet you would want to have two, at the most.

I also put together another one. This is not part of the earlier series, which is a series of love sonnets. The new one is a 'concept' piece and employs a single metaphor that has elements stolen from Tennyson and Cowper. It is 'about' the single-pitch thematic content of most of the open-mike poetry available in Sydney.

Out of the three readings I've recently been to the same, tired drama is played out: the 'disgust with politicians' theme. In fact, this contempt, bred from familiarity, is one of the triumphs of democracy. The sense of fatigue that most political debate generates leads to the citizenry rejecting the whole, sorry drama.

I also spoke again with Kayat Fadeel who was absolutely chuffed to receive a grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He was with his Asian girlfriend and I was surprised to hear him demand a cigarette from her, as we stood on the pavement outside the venue.

There was one girl who delivered a stunning poem, but I didn't collect her name. Apart from her, there was not much worth writing home about and, as I started with, just way too much rap coming out of the voice boxes of a bunch of middle-class urbanites.

One guy (this is too precious) actually performed a rap number that was quite slick. The content, however, was how rap celebrity corrupts its beneficiaries. Bizarre! the irony was so thick but it seemed the performer was unaware of this element.

Bea came fourth. Miles Merrill actually offered me a slot but I turned him down. I was irritated as the situation in terms of gaining a slot is absurd. Only the first 15 who contact the organisers get to read. A further five people have their name drawn out of a hat. The problem is that they do not tell you, beforehand, that this limitation exists. As a result, you need to contact them immediately the event is announced, to gain a turn at the mike.

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